2014.09 minutiae

  • The web site for Taqueria Vallarta in Santa Cruz notes: "Eating has been an important gathering occasion for many generations."

  • A few years ago I grew concerned about how hygienic wooden spoons really were, so I got a yellow exoglass spoon to cook with.  This month I decided to get another.  I saw that they were offered not only in yellow but also in red and blue, so on a whim I opted for the blue one.  That was not very well thought out.  It turns out that a red sauce on a blue spoon ends up looking like it's a sickly greenish-brown color.  Bleah.

    I was also amused to see that the spoon, which was imported from France, was labeled as a "mouvette anglaise", which Google Translate renders as "English wooden hoe".

  • While I was out for a run, I saw someone with cerebral palsy taking her Boston terrier out for some exercise.  She did this by rotating her chair through several complete revolutions while holding the leash, causing the dog to run in a loop around her.

  • Recently I had a Pyrex pan shatter in the sink.  I gathered up the glass shards and put them in a paper bag, but wasn't sure how I was supposed to dispose of them, so I just moved the bag into the corner of the kitchen, in front of the washer/dryer.  Weeks later, I was doing laundry, and a couple of my socks fell out of the dryer, and landed on the lip of the bag.  "Oh, that was lucky," I thought. "It would be totally typical for me to cut up my hand trying to retrieve some socks that had fallen into my bag of glass shards."  Then my train of thought continued, in all seriousness, "I guess this is why most people keep their bag of glass shards out of the laundry area."

  • If you find yourself ending sentences with "and I turned out okay!", it's a pretty good sign that you didn't turn out okay.

  • IF people: is this an Easter egg or just a coincidence?:

  • One afternoon this month I had to chase down the mail carrier to point out that of the four pieces of mail he had just delivered to my house, three didn't have the right house number and one wasn't even the right street.  It wasn't junk mail, either — one piece was a jury summons!

  • We're close enough to the end of the year that I should probably start refilling the Stochastic Planet queue.  I'm wondering whether I should make some changes, though.  Specifically:

    • Currently, new pictures go up at midnight Pacific Time.  Would another time be better?  Maybe 6 a.m. (which is when the Los Angeles Times TV schedule said the day began back in the '80s)?  Or noon?

    • Currently, pictures are stamped only with longitude, latitude, and the name of their location, along with the photo credit.  Would folks like a short blurb about what they're looking at, if I happen to come across some interesting information while putting together the post?

    If you have an opinion, please feel free to leave a comment (links at the bottom of this page).

Welcome to another installment of the Chuckle Box, wherein I analyze jokes, which are always funnier when you explain them.  This month, an inside joke from a quarter century ago.

After my brother died, his girlfriend asked whether I had any home movies she could watch, so I finally got around to buying a video capture device and started digitizing my VHS tapes.  One of the tapes I happened across was of the end-of-the-year banquet for the staffers of my high school newspaper.  There was one line that made me laugh out loud, both then and now:

"Why don't you go to the cantina and read the newspaper?"

I think there are three things that make this funny:

  • First, as noted, it's an inside joke.  Our journalism class was held in two adjacent classrooms: there was the actual newspaper office, room 313, and the faculty advisor's classroom, room 312.  Very rarely was there much work to be done, and so most of the editors preferred to spend the class period in the office socializing.  Sometimes, if someone was acting up, the faculty advisor would come in and sternly say, "Why don't you go to the classroom and read the newspaper?"  So part of the humor derives from mocking an authority figure and from bonding over a mutual understanding of the reference.

  • But I would say that the main thing that makes it funny is the substitution of "cantina" for "classroom".  That is, we weren't in the newspaper office, but rather in an El Torito.  Nevertheless, the speaker mapped the locations we were used to onto this new environment, as if there were a one-to-one correspondence, and the resulting mismatch of treating "cantina" as the local equivalent to "classroom" remains hilarious to me.

  • And I think there's one other thing.  We were in a chain with, at the time, 248 locations, which the founder stated was meant to cater to those for whom this would be "the first time someone tries Mexican food", in a town (Brea, CA) that in 1990 was 77% "Non-Hispanic White".  It was not so much a Mexican restaurant as a Mexican-themed restaurant, and labeling the bar the "cantina" was a ham-handed attempt at branding.  And we all recognized this.  So to actually use the word "cantina" was a way of mocking the corporate phoniness of our surroundings, to draw attention to the artifice and thereby puncture it.

So, see? Now it's funny to you too!

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